On the First Night of Hanukkah this year, I had the great joy of being Jerusalem and, more specifically, in the vibrant neighbourhood of Nachlaot.
I joined some friends outdoors, warm beverages in hand, and we sat outdoors enjoying the light of the hanukkiah. Throughout Jerusalem, there is a big emphasis on publicizing the miracle of Hanukkah, as has always been the aim but as has not always been the possibility on the holiday.
After some time, we began a stroll throughout the neighbourhood. Every few doors, we came upon families lighting their hanukkiot, saying the blessings, singing songs and playing instruments, serving soup and latkes to their neighbours, and enjoying being in the Jewish homeland.
Many of the Hanukkah songs and contemporary Israeli songs I heard were familiar but there were several that were new to me as well.
For any songs I didn’t know, my friend translated the lyrics. I was quite amazed by the words to a song that she told me is known to Israeli kindergarteners. It’s called “Banu Choshech Legaresh.”
Here are some of the lyrics:
We came to banish the darkness
In our hands we hold fire and light
Each of us is a small light
But together we are tremendously bright
Flee darkness! Back off darkness!
Flee in the face of the Light!
And here’s a music video version that combines this song with the words of Isaiah 60:
A Jewish professor I met the other day shared with me about asking everyone in a class to identify some darkness in the world that they would like to banish. Then, he invited them to reflect on the light with which they would dispel it.
“It’s the most fundamental things that are the most important,” he insisted. “These are not complicated ideas. And they present us with opportunities.”